A Holiday Email Accidentally Sent to the Wrong Recipient Turns Up a Surprise Gift

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Just 17 days left in 2020. Enter the final lap with a story from reader Tammy Maitland of Albuquerque, New Mexico, who writes in to say that instead of trading holiday gifts, she suggested her family “make donations to nonprofit organizations in each other’s names.” But she accidentally emailed a different person with her brother’s name. The unintended recipient was 5,200 miles away in Stockholm (her siblings are in Boston). “He let me know, and I apologized, but a few days later he wrote back to say that he was inspired to make his own donation to an organization that helps homeless children.”

“It really gave me a boost that he did that,” she said. “Maybe this story could help people get inspired to make donations if they are able.” And if you’re not able, forward this to one person you know or don’t know. More lifts to enter the week:

100th birthday. Happy centennial to Clark Terry. The trumpeter lit up more than 900 recordings as one of the most prolific musicians in jazz, sharing stages with Count Basie and Duke Ellington, and mentoring Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock. “Since your phoenix-like recovery from serial ills—one of the more astonishing and upbeat stories of the year—I’ve found myself thinking a lot about what you have meant and continue to mean to jazz,” Gary Giddins wrote in 2002, when he saluted Terry as musician of the year. “The dramatically launched high notes, the terse, bent tones that round the corner from one note to the next like a motorcycle zooming around a curve…My wish for you on this birthday and every one to follow is good health, good chops, and a full dose of the joy you have given the rest of us all these years.” Here’s Terry with Peterson in 1965.

Northern lights. The Guardian has published a selection of “the best images” of the breathtaking sky. Photos here.

Cracking the code. A Zodiac breakthrough of sorts. One of the serial killer’s cyphers has been solved, thanks to a code-breaking team from the United States, Australia, and Belgium. Not much to go on; his letter is light on disclosures and clues, and characteristically boastful, but it’s one fewer mystery, a small step in breaking his shield. I was on the Chronicle staff when the Zodiac film was made and interviewed one of the original detectives and an eyewitness. While re-reporting the story, I discovered something curious stuck between archival photos in the newspaper’s library. I turned it over to top editors and we agreed to pass it along to handwriting experts and forensics authorities, all on the record and reported. Have a backstory if you’re into not-so-cold cases. I’ll fill you in if you drop a note to recharge@motherjones.com.

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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